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Montilier

est. 1852

Craftmanship with ExcellEncy

The Swiss brand Montilier has played an important part in Swiss watchmaking for now 166 years.  

Ever since, our goal has been the creation of sensual luxury products, and this has also become our philosophy: the combination of the finest materials, excellent craftsmanship and a knowing eye for style. These were the maxims of Etienne-Ovide Domon, when he began making pocket watches in 1852. As a consequence, the brand's reputation quickly spread far beyond the Swiss borders: especially abroad, the name Montilier stood for Swiss precision and quality.                                                                        

The following of this philosophy propelled Montilier into the ranks of elite Swiss watchmakers. Our watches soon became a synonym for ambition, cosmopolitanism and excellence. Today, we are striving to assure that these values are being maintained. Additionally, since summer 2007, a permanent exhibition about the Fabrique d'Horlogerie Montilier can be visited in the Museum of Murten (Morat). There can be admired some unique master pieces of Montilier's rich history in watch making since 1852.                                                                                        

History

The history of Montilier goes all the way back to 1852 when Etienne-Ovide Domon (1807-1873), founded a watch factory in Morat (Murten), canton Fribourg. Until the formation of the watch factory in Morat, he could already look back upon a rich life. Born in the canton Jura (Soulce) he left Switzerland to collect work experience. During his years as an apprentice across Europe, he was trained as an engraver, learnt mechanics and the art of watch making. During this period as a result of his work experience he gained, Domon made many technical inventions. He developed many valuable designs, technology and invented watch making machines. Some of them were shown later on in exhibitions like Paris. 

Back in Switzerland, Domon founded the Ateliers d’Horlogerie in La Chaux-de-Fonds (1845, for dials) and in Neuchâtel (1849, for watch cases). Later on he relocated and merged these two ateliers, now specialised in the manufacturing of the most important watch components. The new created factory has been settled in the area of Morat (Montilier) as officials of this little village decided in 1851 to create a location promotion. They offered entrepreneurial conditions and industrial support programmes to attract (watch) industry and to initiate job creation in these difficult times. Domon was attracted by these conditions and by merging his ateliers, he founded the Fabrique d’Horlogerie Montilier (1852). Soon the company had more than 200 employees. Sources of 1874 are saying that at this time the watch factory Montilier became the vey first company in Switzerland as a Manufacture, producing all watch components in-house, including the watch movements.   

Domons' first and most important partner was Constant Dinichert (1832 – 1916), who originally came from Alsace (France). Since the very beginning he was a watchmaker by trade and worked in the watch factory with precious stones as a sertisseur. He soon stood out as having excellent watch making knowledge. Domon recognised the potential in the young and brilliant Dinichert and henceforth worked together with him as a partner. They began to construct new technical features together, which gave the watch factory of Montilier a name for innovation and quality. 

 In 1864, Etienne-Ovid Domon retired and handed over the company to his son and his partner Dinichert. He became Grand Council of the Canton Fribourg and was honored by the officials of Montilier by services rendered  to the locality as entrepreneur and industrialist.  Chronicles of 1874 are saying that Montilier became the vey first company in Switzerland as a Manufacture, producing all watch components in-house, including the watch movements. 

The Fabrique d’Horlogerie Montilier (Montilier Watch Co.) received many awards at world exhibitions such as in Paris in 1867 and 1878, in 1889 in Liege (Belgium) in 1930 and in Brussels in 1935 to name only a few. The quality of these watches was so legendary that even military watches were manufactured until the mid 1950’s.

In 1890, the "Société suisse d'horlogerie, Fabrique de Montilier" had around 600 employees and exported thousands of watches around the world in countries like  USA,  British India,  Egypt, Italy, Mexico, Ottoman Empire (Turkey) and many more. In 1952, the company celebrated its centennial.